It was February 1994. I remember exactly where I was when the landline rang in my college apartment and I received the news my oldest, dearest friend has just gotten engaged. Despite the fact that at the time my own level of commitment revolved more around if I should order a Zima with a shot of Chambord rather than my usual vodka on the rocks, or deciding which pants I should wear with my new Betsey Johnson top, I was overjoyed at the notion my childhood bestie was committing at the ripe of age of twenty-one to marry the man of her dreams.
A month or so later over Spring Break I flew in to help celebrate the official engagement party located at her home. Though I had already heard countless tales about how wonderful her beau was, I couldn’t wait to meet the now fiancé in person and his family to boot. The party was great and the husband-to-be lived up to my expectations. I had never seen my friend so happy and in turn, that made me so happy. Growing up I had practically lived at my friend’s house so it was only natural to stick around and hang out even though the party was nearing a close and most of the guests had already left. I vividly recall the three of us sitting in the living room sharing stories about mutual friends and laughing our asses off, not to mention my insistence on reenacting my spot on imitation of our favorite tween movie character Long Duck Dong who when answering the door to heartthrob Jake Ryan questioning the whereabouts of Molly Ringwald aka Samantha in Sixteen Candles he repeatedly replied with the word married.
Long Duck Dong: “Mah-reed!”
Long Duck Dong: “Yes, Mah-reed!”
Long Duck Dong: “Mah-reed. Geesh!”
At one point in between the laughter, my friend asked me to come to the bathroom with her. This was the moment. I thought to myself. She’s gonna ask me to be a bridesmaid, or better yet, maybe even the Maid of Honor. Be cool. I reminded myself. You can’t act too surprised; she’s your best friend for crying out loud. Of course she’s gonna ask you to be in the wedding but still, it’s a pretty major moment so savor it. “Sure, okay. Let’s go,” I said. We went into the bathroom and without much ado, instead of my friend asking me to be in her wedding party, she essentially told me I wasn’t. To this day the details of what she said are still blurry, but what wasn’t blurry were the lifelong memories that came flooding back almost immediately while standing in that bathroom; that same bathroom we spent decades together fixing our hair, brushing our teeth, playing hide-and-go-seek or even just sitting on the floor until the wee hours of the night talking about whatever was relevant in the lives of grammar school, middle school, or high school kids.
I have zero knowledge what happened in the minutes that followed since I’m quite certain I either blocked it out completely and/or pushed it so far down only my therapist years later would add it to my Top Ten List of Unpolished Shock and Awe Rejection Moments!
Some time passed; I was back home for the summer and my landline rang again. This time, it was my friend’s Mom. The wedding was rapidly approaching as the date was set for mid Fall. “Rachel,” she asked. “Will you speak at the rehearsal dinner?” In that split second, the floodgate reopened and the memories surged once again. Now it wasn’t just the moments inclusive of our memorization of the entire script of The Breakfast Club to be regurgitated on command or the Spanish project we slaved over together our Senior year but it was also a throw back to the summers we spent together, the planes, trains and automobiles we rode together, my memory glass presentation at her Bat Mitzvah and the song I performed at her Sweet Sixteen, albeit horrendously so!
Pushing my pride to the unpolished side, I graciously accepted the job of the lifelong friend to speak at the prenuptial dinner making not a single mention of BridesmaidGate.
The big wedding weekend finally arrived and it was amazing. I wasn’t gonna let anything get in the way of this magical moment. The rehearsal dinner went off without a hitch, and my speech was a home run if I do say so myself! During the ceremony the next day, I sat closer to the back of the flower filled garden but it didn’t stop the tears [of joy] when I saw the bride walk down the aisle. I danced the Hora and pretty much every other song the band played with comfort and ease. I think I danced more than anyone that day. It’s just a hunch, but perhaps it was because I was wearing my own dress rather than some stiff, satin bridesmaid uniform. I guess we’ll never know!
The irony of BridesmaidGate is in the years which followed, my friend and I never missed a beat. While we had been on completely separate pages of life, she having babies and raising a family, and me still deciding which alcoholic beverage I should order for Happy Any Hour we remained permanent fixtures to one another. I was the proverbial “Aunt Silver” to her children and she was the other half of my sisterhood. So when those traveling pants would come through town every so often with or without notice, there was nothing more important than seeing each other if only for five minutes or five hours or five days. We remained permanent fixtures to one another.
I never really understood why I wasn’t in her wedding party and we really never spoke about it but I knew in my heart I was more than just a dress.
Last week, my friend and I were catching up via text. Our messages though nonverbal and mostly nonsensical to anyone else are notorious for yielding side-stitching, laugh out loud reactions that leave one of us, if not both of us with a raging case of the hiccups from the almost forty-seven years of built up inside jokes. Not often does the text thread omit a line that reads, I can totally hear your voice while I’m reading this. Or I completely know the sound of your laugh; it still cracks me up. Or I’m in my office and people are looking at me because I’m crying laughing right now. Even at times when the nature of the texts turn grim, somehow our warped senses of humor help to lighten the heaviness of the load.
JUST TO LET YOU KNOW… I was loving her unpolished apology of being Queen Bride Asshole but the bigger question that came to mind on a random weekday in the year 2019 was what device do you still own and operate that could possibly be compatible to view a twenty-five year old video?